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Beginning later this month, construction crews will detour traffic north of downtown in preparation for launching construction on three new bridges that are key pieces of the controversial Panther Island project. During the third week of August, crews will detour traffic on White Settlement Road and Henderson Street, Mark Rauscher, Fort Worth’s senior capital programs manager, said. And later this fall or in early winter, crews will detour traffic on North Main Street. The Henderson and White Settlement bridges will cross a planned bypass channel, to be dug after the bridges are completed, and railroad tracks. The North Main bridges will cross the channel.
The bridges are scheduled to be completed in 2017 and 2018. The Henderson detour will be a temporary, parallel road segment between White Settlement Road and west of North Rupert Street. Westbound traffic on White Settlement Road coming from Henderson will be detoured north on North Commercial Street back to Henderson. White Settlement Road between Commercial and west of Rupert will be closed for the bridge construction. The North Main detour will be a temporary, parallel road segment between LaGrave Field and east of Northside Drive. The detours will cost about $2 million, with the city carrying most of that expense, and the state picking up a small portion, Rauscher said.
The detours are designed to have minimal impact on businesses in the area, Rauscher said. North University Drive and Carroll Street running north from West Seventh Street will be the primary ways to get to businesses on White Settlement east of University. Texas Sterling won the $65.5 million contract to build the bridges, to be paid for by city, state, and federal money. The bridges are part of the massive $900 million-plus Panther Island flood control and economic development project. Critics worry there won’t be enough available federal money to build the bypass channel once the bridges are built. Officials say it will cost much less and be much easier to build the bridges before the bypass is dug and full of water.